Living in England has converted me. That’s right, I’ve become a footie fan.
It’s a surprise to me. As a retired roller derby athlete and a lifelong ice hockey fan, I have always thought of soccer as a slow sport for the unfortunate people who can’t skate. Oh, I recognized the athleticism of jogging around after a ball for 90 minutes, but I just thought it wasn’t any fun to watch. All that diving to the ground and clutching at ankles. Give me Bobby Baun scoring a game winning goal on a fractured femur – as a Canadian kid I heard the legends of the hockey toughs, saw the sutures stitched on the bench. So naturally I held soccer in a not-always-quiet contempt.
I changed my mind when I worked with some soccer athletes. Dedicated, passionate, skillful and athletic, they had way more fortitude than I would have previously imagined. Still not the sport for me, but now I gave it respect.
Since moving to the UK, I have been adopted into a Manchester United household (this means that I am forbidden from saying anything remotely positive about Liverpool. At all. In any capacity. Ever.). I watched a couple games, and wasn’t that interested in their dull defensive strategy. Boring to watch. Especially when it doesn’t work, which is most of the time.
But then I started watching Leicester, who play an entirely different ball game. They’re the type of team that bring so much get-up-and-go to the field that they make other teams step up in kind. They’re fast and aggressive. It’s exciting. Really, really exciting.
I’m definitely a bandwagon jumper here, and I’ll admit that freely. So while I’m at it, here’s another bandwagon I’ve hopped on.
The football club to me – so local they play just a few blocks away – is Grimsby Town, nicknamed the Mariners. The team was founded in 1878. For context, the phonograph was patented the same year.